Preliminary studies show that it may help fight heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer.
Some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. There’s some evidence it may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s quite a tall order for a tiny seed that’s been around for centuries.
Flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it. Now, thirteen centuries later, some experts say we have preliminary research to back up what Charlemagne suspected.
Flaxseeds (also called linseeds) are a rich source of micronutrients, dietary fiber, manganese, vitamin B1, and the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, also known as ALA or omega-3.
Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them:
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
- Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
- Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.
The therapeutic and beneficial properties of consuming flaxseed are not yet completely understood, and many claims still lack “high-quality” studies to back them up.
However, emerging research suggests that flaxseed might indeed be the wonder food many people claim it to be.
Flaxseed’s possible health benefits include:
Protecting against cancer: Consuming flaxseed may help protect against prostate, colon, and breast cancers. Flaxseed is thought to prevent the growth of cancerous cells because its omega-3 fatty acids disrupt malignant cells from clinging onto other body cells. In addition, the lignans in flaxseed have antiangiogenic properties – they stop tumours from forming new blood vessels.
Preventing hot flashes: A study published in the Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology suggests that a dietary intake of flaxseed can decrease the risk of hot flashes among postmenopausal women.
Improving blood sugar: There is strong evidence to suggest that consuming flaxseed every day improves glycemic control in obese men and women with pre-diabetes, according to a study published in Nutrition Research.
Sprinkling ground flaxseed into a smoothie or bowl of cereal will turn your breakfast into a gold mine of omega 3 fatty acids: just two tablespoons contains more than 100% of your recommended daily intake for those heart-healthy fats. And, as an added bonus, here’s a recipe that elevates ground flaxseed into Chocolate Breakfast Sprinkles that are totally healthy!